WWF has warned that the March 2021 Budget doesn’t add up when it comes to government delivering on its climate promises, such as the commitment to cut emissions by 78% by 2035, according to new analysis.
Figures from WWF reveal that the climate change mitigation policies set out in the March 2021 Budget equate to just £145 million, while policies that will drive up emissions – like the fuel duty freeze – equate to over £40 billion.
These findings are the product of a new Budget tagging tool, which indicates that UK government spending is falling far short of what’s required to deliver net zero and build a clean, safe, prosperous future for the UK.
The Net Zero Test
While the Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimates that investment of approximately 1% of GDP per year from the public and private sectors will deliver the transition, climate change mitigation policies outlined in the March 2021 Budget add up to just 0.01% of GDP.
The launch of the Budget tagging tool comes just days after the publication of the latest IPCC report, which suggests the target to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels will be breached without ‘immediate, rapid and large scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions’.
The publication of the Budget tagging analysis marks the completion of the first component of WWF’s Net Zero Test which – for the first time in the UK – will allow assessment of whether future Budgets and Spending Reviews align with net zero.
Delaying essential investments by 10 years would double the amount of money needed. By contrast, introducing a Net Zero Test would help the Treasury unlock an estimated £90 billion of annual benefits, including green jobs and export opportunities, warmer homes and more woodland and green space for everyone, while driving down the UK’s environmental footprint.
‘With nature in freefall and the climate in crisis, the clock is ticking for the planet, as the latest IPCC reports makes clear. It’s not yet too late to prevent global warming from rising above 1.5°C – it is in our hands. But to do that, the UK government must play its part by keeping every climate promise it has made.
‘The latest Budget simply doesn’t add up to the cleaner, greener future we all want to see. To turn things around, ministers must close the gap between their climate commitments and their spending plans, by adopting a Net Zero Test for all government spending ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 climate summit in November.
‘We won’t forget the government’s climate promises and, together with our supporters, we will hold government to account for delivering on them.’
Head of climate change at WWF